…fter George Floyd’s murder. And an unprecedented number and assortment of people are participating. Unlike the last time brutality-inspired protests broke out across America — back in 2014, after Ferguson — Black people don’t make up a clear majority of the protestors. More white people than ever before are “waking up.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but these are the names of the victims of systemic racism that haunt me and have made it clear that our police and legal system are designed to terrorize and brutalize black people:
Black Lives Matter rose out of the fury of the Michael Brown shooting, but the circumstances and evidence were too muddled to make him a symbol of injustice that white people could get behind.
In addition, the early attempts to gain public exposure for BLM didn’t win the hearts of white progressives when two members hijacked the campaign podium of Bernie Sanders, the one candidate who was part of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
The difference between George Floyd and all the other victims of police brutality was the callous, cavalier attitude of the Minneapolis police officer who murdered a restrained man lying on the ground.
It’s hard enough for me to stay on my knees for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to scrub the kitchen floor. How is it possible for a man to stay in the position that long while knowing he is killing another human being?
The face of evil is not wild and violent; it is calm, relaxed, and indifferent.
The horror we witnessed will go down in history with other monuments to human cruelty: the “wish you were here” postcard images of Jesse Washington’s lynching; countless photos of Nazi war crimes; and the “Saigon Execution.”
Throughout history there are iconic events where inhuman cruelty galvanizes a people into action, resulting in eventual change.
Let’s hope the momentum carries over into elections at every level of government this November so we can change the laws and institutions that have made it a crime to be black in this country.